Talking to Kids About Health: Which Weigh Works?

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September 27, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter

Communication can be a complicated process, especially when it’s concerned with weight. Many parents are hesitant to address such a topic since feelings about overweight and obesity can be influenced by personal issues or conflicting messages from media and society.

Is it important to not let awkwardness keep you from having a conversation with your child for 3 specific reasons:

  1. Obesity is a matter of health and is a gateway to many chronic diseases and conditions.
  2. Bullying: Weight is more common than teasing for sexual orientation, race, physical disability or religion.
  3. A child with obesity is more likely to become an adult with obesity.

Situations that may require most attention are: why healthy weight is important; relationship between “weight” and “health;” body image; bullying; inter-family weight differences; and weight bias.

There are especially effective ways for expressing concern and communicating successfully:

  1. Be positive and supportive: Building confidence and self-esteem is much more common for children with a strong support system.
  2. Be realistic: Focusing on small, specific steps makes achieving a health goal seem possible.
  3. Keep the conversation open: Asking children how they feel may help them speak openly.
  4. Normalize the issue: Communicating about obesity as a health concern keeps it in the context of other health issues that children may face (ex: asthma, ADHD).

Lastly, be sure to offer specific actions to get healthy that are easy to monitor or measure:

  1. Increasing the number of minutes of being active in a day.
  2. Increasing amount of outdoor playtime and limiting screen time.
  3. Creating family play time.
  4. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat.
  5. Limiting the number of sweets (foods and beverages) you eat a week.
  6. Increasing the number of meals that the family sits down to eat together.
  7. Shopping for healthy foods together.
  8. Preparing family meals together.

Weight does not have to be a life-long struggle for your child. Talk to them today; see which weigh works!

Source: Alliance for a Healthier Generation (www.stopobesityalliance.org)

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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